How Guardians Of The Galaxy’s James Gunn Was Involved In The Development Of Disney+’s I Am Groot

Since it kicked off in 2014, the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has not only been one of the most popular series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but in the entertainment landscape as a whole. This is greatly due to the keen creative eye of James Gunn, who has served as writer, director and executive producer on the cosmic A-holes’ solo ventures thus far. The latest production to spin out of the massive IP is I Am Groot, a series of animated shorts centered on the lovable talking tree. Though Gunn didn’t actually write or direct the show (which is streamable with a Disney+ subscription), he was definitely still involved in the creative process. 

I Am Groot is led by seasoned animator Kirsten Lepore, who managed to bring her experience with short films to the production. While she sought to use her own unique sensibilities while tackling the adorable MCU character, Lepore did consult with the man who helped shepherd them to the big screen. I spoke with Lepore during the junket for the series, during which she explained that James Gunn provided her with some invaluable guidance during the creative process:

Yeah, I mean, he was actually super helpful in the process. We had a few meetings throughout production, one of the first just being, you know, one where we sort of sat down and just talked about, ‘Okay, who is this character,’ you know, that he created, and just making sure that like, I could do that character justice. And I could hear from his mouth, sort of describing who he is, you know, who Groot is as a character. So that was really, really informative and something that I sort of took with me, had in the back of my head the whole time we were writing.

James Gunn has proven to be quite protective of his space adventurers, and for good reason. The Guardians have a very specific vibe that specifically shines through in Gunn’s dialogue and, so far, it’s proved to be successful. Gunn also worked with Taika Waititi to ensure that the team’s appearance in Thor: Love and Thunder was pitch perfect. And years earlier, Gunn also contributed to Avengers: Infinity War, as he gave directors Joe and Anthony Russo a few suggestions for the Guardians’ introduction song. So the filmmaker’s fingerprints are definitely all over the MCU, especially in its cosmic corners. 

The director currently has his hands full with some other Guardians of the Galaxy projects. James Gunn is working on the upcoming Holiday Special, which he says is the “greatest thing” he’s ever done. He’s also got Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which was recently highlighted at Comic-Con with footage teasing Rocket’s origins and more. Crafting the film was “emotional” for Gunn, who views this as the end of the story he wanted to tell with these characters. (I honestly don’t think we’re prepared for what’s to come.)

In the meantime, I Am Groot should provide audiences with plenty of delightful moments featuring the titular character. The shorts place Baby Groot in various situations that he handles in his own unique way. Returning to the role of the tree creature is Vin Diesel, who recorded his dialogue very quickly.

Kristen Lepore definitely appreciated James Gunn’s contributions to the new show, and those who’ve already watched it can probably see his influence. While Gunn may not direct another Guardians movie after the third installment, one would hope that he continues to serve as a consultant moving forward, as his distinct brand of humor and heart is much appreciated in the MCU canon.

All five I Am Groot shorts are now streaming alongside the many other Marvel shows on Disney+.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.